After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Note: I received an ARC of this book for my participation in the TLC book tour!
From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis’s Carroll’s beloved classic
When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?
In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings — and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself.
Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is After Alice.
This was the first of Maguire’s works that I have read. I have of course heard of Wicked and know many people that love it! When I saw this title was on tour I was intrigued. Alice in Wonderland is a strange and marvellous classic and retellings of it are so much fun to read. Or… They usually are.
When I first started his book, I was loving the setting and exited to see where the story was going. I was also enjoying the changing perspectives–how it would switch from Ada to Lydia, Alice’s sister. Unfortunately… from that point on, reading it felt like a chore. It was so. Slow. Something about it didn’t work for me. I never reached the point where I was drawn in.
I must be perfectly honest with you, though. I read the first two thirds, and mostly skim-read the rest. As I flipped through though, unfortunately there was nothing that made me want to stop and read it more thoroughly.
This book is by no means bad. The writing is beautiful and skillful, the story carefully crafted. The time period is interesting and the source material is, obviously, awesome. Maybe if I had been in a different reading mood, I might have found more enjoyment.
If you are a fan of Maguire’s other works, I think you will definitely like this one. His retellings seem more of the serious variety, with social and political commentary. After Alice is atmospheric and whimsical, but the pacing is too slow for my liking.
I also found that Ada wasn’t my favourite character. She was a little bit dull and was basically following right behind Alice. We see a lot of the same beloved characters from Wonderland, but through the eyes of Ada. I personally found that Maguire didn’t really add enough new things to it for me to find it particularly interesting.
All that being said, if you enjoy books that are slower in pacing, whimsical in writing, and atmospheric in setting, you might want to give this one a go! It just wasn’t the book for me.
About The Author
Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.
Find out more about Gregory at his website and follow him on Facebook.
Are you a fan of Wicked? Do you love Alice in Wonderland? Do you want to give this book a try? Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow, if you are in Canada or the US, you have the opportunity to win a copy! Please be sure to read the Terms and conditions and make sure that you are eligible and that your entries will not be disqualified. Please do not tweet or follow with giveaway or spam accounts.
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.